This post might get a little long winded here, but it's something thats been bugging me for the past few years and I really, really want to just get it off my chest. But before I do that I'll give you guys the news.
As of today, it's officially official that Manchester United will be making the return to MLS this summer to partake in the league's annual All Star game where the best of MLS plays a prestigious club from Europe (or has done so for past few years anyway). Last year Manchester United took on the All Stars and thoroughly beat them 5 - 2 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. This year, the team returns on July 27th at 8:30PM ET to play in New York's Red Bull Arena.
Also worth noting is that, while nothing has yet been announced, this will most definitely mean a few teams in MLS will be playing against Manchester United for their mid-summer friendlies.
Anyway, now that that's out of the way, allow me to rant a little...I've always had a very serious problem with the All Star game. Sure the game is fun for the casual fans, or for Manchester United's legendary fanbase, but it really does nothing but harm the league and especially the players that are drawn from their teams to play in a meaningless game that just goes to showcase why MLS is not a top tier league. Not that I believe we are, yet, but even if we were the All Star game would still be a poor indication of our quality whether we win or lose the match.
Here are my exact problems:
First, whatever weekend it falls on promises to be a piss poor weekend for the rest of the league. No Landon Donovan, Dwayne De Rosario, Nick Rimando, or any of our league's best players will be plying regular league games that weekend (even if the game is on a weekday). 18 of our leagues best players will be "called up" for a game that is nothing but a cash cow for MLS and whatever team is heading over here. Aside from a lightweight trophy there is no incentive to actually win this thing, Bruce Arena (All Star coach last year) even said as much after his team's royal thwomping in 2010.
Second, the opposing team doesn't care about this game. They don't and they never will because it's a sideshow. When Manchester United won the event last year and were presented with the trophy -- in the typical manner high profile trophies are awarded to soccer teams who won major tournament -- each player had a look of complete and utter apathy on their faces. They don't care because they know exactly what it is: a pre-season friendly and nothing more.
Finally, if it was a yearly series against the last year's previous MLS Cup or Supporters Shield winner that would make far more sense. When you just throw 18 players on to a team with a week's worth of training together you're inviting failure. It doesn't matter if they are considered the league's best or not as there'll be no coordination and little trust between the players. Last year's game wasn't pretty for our side and I doubt there will be an improvement this year.
The whole thing just seems so fake and manufactured for the sake of money that it really just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't watch last year's game and I have no intention of watching this year's game. Given our team's current performance I'm just happy that we probably won't lose anybody to this year's All Star game.